The Delta Center Newsletter
A publication of The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University

 Mississippi Delta NHA 
Progress Report


We are pleased to share the Spring 2018 edition of The Delta Center Newsletter featuring exciting updates from  the  International Delta Blues Project at Delta State University,  the National Endowment for the Humanities  "Most Southern Place on Earth" Institute , and the    Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area (MDNHA)

Over the past few months, The Delta Center team has seen our collaborations with local, regional, and national partners come full circle. January kicked off with our team promoting the International Conference on the Blues and other Delta Center programs at the Back Stage Pass event tourism conference in Tupelo

In February, the Alliance of National Heritage Areas and the National Park Service (NPS) honored the Mississippi Delta NHA for receiving a NPS Centennial Award, as well as Motor Cities NHA for receiving a NPS Director's Partnership Award. We appreciate our Alliance and NPS colleagues for "Telling the Delta's Story" and stories of NHA communities across the country. We also appreciate local ABC and FOX television affiliate, The Delta News, for broadcasting this story throughout our region. 

MDNHA executive director Dr. Rolando Herts (left) and Motor Cities NHA executive director Shawn Pomaville-Size (right) receiving NPS awards from Joy Beasley, NPS Acting Associate Director, Cultural Resources, Partnerships, and Science at the Alliance of National Heritage Areas Congressional Reception in Washington, DC
In March, the National Humanities Alliance recognized The Delta Center's "Most Southern Place on Earth" Institute as an exemplary, high impact National Endowment for the Humanities program. As part of this recognition, "Most Southern" is featured on the NEH For All website which details the institute's various educational, cultural, and economic impacts. We thank the National Humanities Alliance for highlighting The Delta Center's efforts, making us a part of a nationwide coalition that advances humanities education, research, preservation, and public programs. Thanks again to The Delta News for televising this story as well. 

This month, we congratulate MDNHA grantee Delta Hands for Hope for receiving one of Volunteer Mississippi's 2018 GIVE Awards. The grant supported youth from Shaw, MS, learning how to tell community stories through photography. Through the skills they learned, the students were able to document their own local  volunteer efforts which led to them receiving the award.

As always, many thanks, to our readers, funders, partners, collaborators, stakeholders, and friends for continued support as we work together toward f ulfilling The Delta Center's mission: promoting greater understanding of the Mississippi Delta's culture and history and its significance to the world through education, partnerships, and community engagement. 

Rolando Herts, Ph.D.
Director, The Delta Center for Culture and Learning
Executive Director, Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area
Delta State University, Cleveland, MS

The International Blues Scholars Program is an online academic certificate program available to students all over the world. Students may register for up to 12 hours of graduate or undergraduate level courses. Those completing all 12 hours will receive a Certificate of Completion from Delta State University.

For 2018, Summer I (May 31-June 30) course offerings are "Sociology of the Blues" and "Modern American History: History of the 20th Century South." Summer II (July 5-August 4) course offerings are "Geography of the South and the Blues" and "Deconstructing the Twelve-Bar Blues." 

Tuition assistance in the amount of $250 per summer session is available for the first eight full time students who enroll. Applications are due Friday, May 25.


Delta Center staff members Shelia Winters (left) and Lee Aylward (right) promoting the International Conference on the Blues at the 2018 Back Stage Pass event tourism conference in Tupelo, MS.
The Delta Center celebrating the launch of Music Across Campus: Connecting the Delta State University Family and Campus with Music with DSU President William N. Laforge and campus-community partners including Delta Music Institute, Bologna Performing Arts Center, Department of Music, and GRAMMY Museum Mississippi.


The National Humanities Alliance recently recognized The Delta Center for Culture and Learning's "Most Southern Place on Earth" Institute as a one of a select group of high-impact programs funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. "Most Southern" is featured on the Alliance's NEH For All website,  , which highlights impacts of the National Endowment for the Humanities across the United States. On the website, "Most Southern" is noted for having impacts in several key measurement areas, including Enriching K-12 Education; Providing Lifelong Learning Opportunities for Diverse Audiences; Facilitating Community Dialogue; Fostering Local Tourism Economies; and Promoting Civic Education.

Many thanks to The Delta News for televising a feature story about The Delta Center receiving this important recognition from the National Humanities Alliance. 

72 scholars selected for ninth year of  NEH "Most Southern" 

The Delta Center received over 300 applications from educators across the country eager to be selected as NEH "Most Southern" Institute summer scholars. This will be the ninth year that The Delta Center has offered "Most Southern" in partnership with the National Endowment for the Humanities.  

After a rigorous application review process, 72 scholars have been selected and invited to participate. The invited scholars represent dozens of states including Hawaii, California, Oregon, Idaho, Colorado, Nebraska, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New York, Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Alabama . . . and, of course, Mississippi!

Want to Learn More?
Watch the videos below or visit our media page to see additional photos and videos from the "Most Southern" Institute.

In February, The Delta News, local ABC and FOX television affiliate, featured Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area and The Delta Center for participating in the Alliance of National Heritage Areas annual meeting in Washington, D.C. During the Alliance's "Heart & Soul" congressional reception, the MDNHA was recognized with a NPS Centennial Award for creating the Delta Jewels Oral History Partnership. Keith "Prince of the Delta Blues" Johnson, nephew of Muddy Waters, performed at the event.
The MDNHA delegation met with recently retired U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (second from right). Delta State graduate Keith Johnson (second from left), performed during the meeting. Also pictured (left to right) are Shelia Winters, Lee Aylward and Dr. Rolando Herts of MDNHA and The Delta Center, and Rhonda Price, executive director of Mississippi Gulf Coast NHA.  

MDNHA receives record number of  2018 grant applications

The MDNHA recently completed its call for grant proposals for cultural heritage development projects in the Mississippi Delta. The MDNHA saw a more than 100% increase in proposal application submissions this year compared to last year. 

This is the third year that the MDNHA grants program has been in operation.  In 2016 and 2017, MDNHA distributed over $345,000 in grants to 23 partners the committed  $642,516 in cash and in-kind  matching funds. This amounts to a grand investment total of $987,516 toward worthwhile community projects consistent with the MDNHA's mission.

For more information about the MDNHA grants program, visit
Grantee Spotlight: Delta Hands for Hope 

Congratulations to 2016 MDNHA grant recipient Delta Hands for Hope (DHH) of Shaw, MS, for receiving a  Governor's Initiative for Volunteer Excellence (GIVE) Award from Volunteer Mississippi . The awards ceremony was held on Monday, April 16 at the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson.

Outstanding Volunteer Leadership By A Youth Group award plaques were given to DHH students Roderious Phillips, Keyveon Rice, Jakieus Roach, Brianna Townes, Makala Washington, and Japhabian White.  These six students started the DHH Youth Leaders which has engaged 20 students who have volunteered over 3,000 service hours in their community. 

"The MDNHA grant has been instrumental in the development of the youth in Shaw," said Lane Riley, DHH executive director. "Because of this program, they have learned more about professionalism, responsibility, and have gained a greater sense of pride in their community. They have used their new photography skills to document their volunteer experiences, and are being honored and awarded for their dedication to service. Thanks to the MDNHA, the youth in Shaw are learning more about service and leadership."

The Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area is proud to share its 2014-2016 progress report. The report provides an overview of the MDNHA's various activities and accomplishments since its Management Plan was approved by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior in August 2014.  Highlights include:

- MDNHA Passport to Your National Parks Program

- MDNHA Grants Program

- Top 40 Places to Visit in the Mississippi Delta website

Thanks to the 
National Park Service's 
National Heritage Areas Program 
for featuring MDNHA and 
The Delta Center in their 

If you've not visited the NPS Heritage & Historic Preservation Facebook page, we encourage you to do so. There are lots of wonderful things happening in conjunction with our national parks!
Curious about where to go in the Delta?
Look Who Visited The Delta Center!

NEH Most Southern alum Nikki Gilliam from Los Angeles, CA
Guests from University of Pretoria (South Africa), University of Indiana, and Mississippi State University planning educational Delta tours.
Tourists from Paris, France, visiting
The Delta Center's main office

The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State recently hosted student groups visiting the Mississippi Delta from various universities.  Students traveled to the region to learn about, experience, and in some cases document the nationally-significant history and culture of the Mississippi Delta.

Groups included students and faculty/staff from Arkansas State University, American University, Harvard Law School, Jackson State University, Middle Tennessee State University, Mississippi State University, Ohio University, Penn State University, University of Mississippi, and West Virginia University, and Yale University. Click here to learn more. 

Lens Collective students and faculty mentors at the Fannie Lou Hamer Memorial Garden in Ruleville with Delta Center staff members Dr. Rolando Herts and Lee Aylward
Harvard Law School students visiting the Cast of Blues exhibit at  The Delta Center
Yale and Mississippi State students visiting Taborian Hospital in
Mound Bayou

For more information on The Delta Center for Culture and Learning, please visit 

For more information on the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area, please visit

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The Delta Center for Culture and Learning | 662-846-4311